CWT-LTER Data Set Summary

Accession: 1112 CWT Research Theme: Organic Matter/Decomposition
Contributors: Katherine Elliott, , Jason Love
Title: Seasonal leaf litter mass (2000-2010) for the Functional Diversity project, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, Otto, North Carolina
Abstract: The importance of the herbaceous layer in regulating ecosystem processes in deciduous forests is generally unknown. We use a manipulative study in a rich, mesophytic cove forest in the southern Appalachians to test the following hypotheses: (i) the herbaceous functional group (HFG) in mesophytic coves accelerates carbon and nutrient cycling, (ii) high litter quality input and rapid nutrient turnover associated with HFG will have a positive effect on overstory tree growth, and (iii) the HFG regulates tree regeneration with negative effects on seedling establishment due to competition for resources. We established treatment plots in a mesic, cove-hardwoods forest and removed the herbaceous flora (HR, removed twice per year) or added herbaceous organic material (OMA, once per year) for comparison to a no removal (NR) reference for a total of 14 years. The OMA treatment stimulated soil N-mineralization and increased litterfall mass and N content. OMA N-mineralization rates were more than two times greater than both the NR and HR treatments; however, we did not detect significant differences in soil CO2 efflux among treatments. Higher overstory litterfall mass and N in the OMA treatment plots indicated that overstory trees were benefiting from the enhanced soil N-mineralization. Higher overstory leaf mass and N suggests an important linkage between HR and aboveground net primary production even though this did not translate into greater tree basal area increment. We found an increase in regeneration of all tree species with HFG removal, and the response was particularly evident for Acer rubrum seedlings.
Key Words: aboveground production, Coweeta LTER, decomposition, dry weight, herbaceous organic material, leaf litter, litter baskets, litterfall, mesophytic cove, net primary production, Nitrogen mineralization, plant ecology
LTER Core Area: Movement of Organic Matter
CWT Themes: Organic Matter/Decomposition, General Nutrient Chemistry, Plant Ecology
Study Type: Coweeta LTER / USDA FS Long Term Monitoring
Study Period: 01-Jan-2000 to 31-Dec-2010
Site References:
CWTBASIN -- Coweeta Basin, Macon County, North Carolina, USA
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Data References: 1102
Downloads: 

Data Table: 1112 (Main data table for data set 1112, 2760)

Access: Public (released 08-Sep-2015)

Metadata: Text (ESA FLED), Basic EML, Complete EML

Data Formats: Spreadsheet CSV Text Format, EML-described Text Format, Tab-delimited Text Report with Statistical Summary, GCE Data Toolbox Format, Standard MATLAB Variables Format

Column List:

Column Name Units Type Description (hide)
1 Year yyyy integer Year collection was made
2 Season none alphanumeric string Season collection was made
3 Plot none integer Plot number
4 Treatment none alphanumeric string Whether the plot is a Control or Treatment
5 Trap none integer Litter trap number
6 Deciduous g floating-point Decduous leaf litter mass to the nearest 0.01 g
7 Rhododendron g floating-point Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) leaf litter mass to the nearest 0.01 g
8 Hemlock g floating-point Eastern Hemlock, (Tsuga canadensis), leaf litter mass to the nearest 0.01 g
9 Other g floating-point Other litterfall, including twigs ≤2.5 cm diameter, seeds, and nuts to the nearest 0.01 g
10 Total g floating-point Total litterfall mass to the nearest 0.01 g
11 Comments none alphanumeric string Comments regarding sample